Basic Requirements for Growing Live Aquarium Plants

Back to Home
Basic Requirements for Growing Live Aquarium Plants

            Adding live plants to your aquarium can have several beneficial effects on the water quality and health of the fish in your tank, but there are a few basic equipment and maintenance requirements to grow plants successfully.  Here is a very brief outline of the minimum requirements for keeping aquarium plants healthy:


Fluorescent Lighting:


            Aquarium plants usually require 2.5 to 4.5 watts (per gallon of aquarium water) of fluorescent light for a period of 8 to 10 hours every day.  Calculate the watts of light per gallon by adding up the total watts of all the lights over your aquarium and dividing the total by the volume of the aquarium in gallons.  Some types of plants grow better while receiving watts/gallon towards either end of this range and some types are comfortable at a variety of light intensities.


LED Lighting

            New LED lighting incorporated a large amount of light that will help aquarium plants grow successfully. LED lighting has come a long way since the first generations where they were only available in red and blue spectrums which were not sufficient for majority of aquarium plants.


By knowing the characteristics and needs of the type of plants growing in the aquarium, the proper lighting can be recommended. These would include:

•           Size

•           Shape

•           Height

•           Intensity requirements

•           Sensitivity to heat (Not really an issue with LED)


Most LED fixtures now come with menus and data sheets to make calculating the specifications of light illumination and watts per gallon needed easy.


Warm, Stable Water Temperature:


Generally, aquarium plants require a consistent temperature somewhere in the range of 76 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Centigrade).  Almost all of the plants we offer for sale are tropical varieties, cultured in Denmark or Singapore from plants originally collected in South America, Africa or Southeast Asia.  Many of the more colorful hybrid plants are even more temperature sensitive than their parent stock.  The room you keep your tank in might affect the water temperature so concentrate on achieving stability within the comfortable range, as stability is more important than exact temperature.  Plants exposed to rapidly changing temperatures often stop growing, turn yellow or even die-off completely.


Clean, Stable Water Chemistry:


            Sometimes plants are even less tolerant that fish with regards to rapid changes in pH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Water Hardness (GH).  When plants are exposed to too many changes in the water chemistry, they waste valuable energy adjusting to environmental changes instead of using the energy to grow new leaves.  Allowing organic wastes to build up in the aquarium will promote algae growth that will compete with plants for available light energy and nutrients.  Keeping the population of fish low and performing smaller, frequent water changes (15 – 20 % once every 1 – 2 weeks), helps to minimize fluctuations in water chemistry, minimize algae growth and encourage strong plant growth.